Stephen Fairley 2013-12-05 00:01:16
Proven Strategies for Growing Your Law Firm in 2014 Over the last 12 years, we have been honored to work with over 10,000 attorneys from virtually every practice area. In our experience, many law firms go through busy and slow cycles. Perhaps you have noticed the number of new inquiries slows down during the summer or over the holiday season. This makes it a perfect time to take stock of where you are, look back over the last year and see what you achieved, as well as plan for success in the coming year. Start by asking yourself four questions: 1. Am I on target to achieve my goals in the next year? 2. Are my numbers lining up? Examine your overhead, major expenditures, profit margins, etc. 3. Am I creating a business that supports and enhances the lifestyle I want to lead? 4. What are my financial and personal goals for next year? After you’ve collected and analyzed the data, done some writing, and reflected on your future, the next step is to create a written action plan. Focus On Your Goals Did you make as much money as you planned for this year? If not, how much more do you need to make next year in order to reach your financial goals next year? How many clients at what price point will you need to sign up each month to reach your goals? For example, if you want to make $500,000 (or an extra $500K) next year and your average client value (ACV) is $5,000 then you will need to sign up 100 clients per year or an average of 8-9 new clients per month. If you also know that you sign up one new client for every three consultations you have, then you will need to set 24-36 consultations per month or an average of 1-2 consults per day (there are roughly 250 business days per year) to sign up the 100 new clients. Make sense? The next two questions establish your baseline: How many consults are you currently meeting with each week? How many new clients are you signing up each month? If you are only meeting with 3-5 consults per week then you will need to roughly double that number to achieve your goals. Examine what you are currently doing for marketing and business development: Is your website outdated? Does it focus on your primary practice areas? Are you adding new content via a blog on a weekly basis? Is your LinkedIn profile up to date? Are you meeting with potential referral sources each month? Are you keeping in touch with your current and former clients on a regular basis? Are you giving seminars or presentations to leverage your time (marketing one to many versus just one to one)? Know Your Numbers Every business owner must know their numbers! If you don’t know your numbers, you won’t be able to plan for the future. There are 12 critical numbers (also called “key performance indicators”) every business owner must track: • Number of leads per month and where they came from • Number of new appointments or consultations per month • Number of new clients who signed up per month • Total amount of new retainer agreements • Total amount of cash in the door (actual gross revenues) • Total amount of accounts receivable and how long overdue • Total amount of cost of goods sold (COGS) • Total amount of payroll & non-payroll expenses each month • Total amount of net operating income (net profit) each month Build A Lifestyle Law Firm Are you creating a law firm that supports the lifestyle you want to lead? One that allows you to spend time with your family & friends, take multiple vacations each year, have sufficient “margin” in your life so you don’t always feel stressed out, and the ability to work regular hours (except for the occasional period of insanity every small-business owner faces)? Are you happy with how your business is working for you? Or do you feel like you have a slave driver for a boss? What good is it being a business owner if the only people who are enjoying life are your employees? I recently read that the legal industry has surpassed the dental industry as the profession with the highest rates of suicide. Could part of the problem be that far too many attorneys are taught that to be successful you have to work with clients you dislike, with co-workers who stab you in the back, doing work you don’t enjoy? There is a better way and at The Rainmaker Institute we have taught thousands of attorneys how to reengineer their practice to create a lifestyle law firm. Create A Written Action Plan Take a look at each category and write down the answers you came up with. Rank yourself on a scale of 1 to 10 for how well each area is working. What can you do to improve the areas that are “7” or above? What’s your plan for the areas marked “6” or below”? Can you: Delegate them to someone else? Outsource them to a company who specializes in that area? Get training on them so you can improve? Or eliminate them because they are causing more issues than you need? Prioritize your action plan from urgently need to address; need to address soon; or nice to address, but not essential. This will form the blueprint for a better law practice in the coming year. Building Your Referral Base in 2014 Building a strong referral base should be a top priority for every law firm, every year. Below are seven proven steps you can take in your law firm marketing and referral strategy to grow your referral base and to catalyze multiple, repeat referrals from your contacts. All are designed to keep your name and reputation top of mind with your connections and to reward and recognize them appropriately to encourage referrals short-term and long-term as part of your overall law firm marketing strategy. 1. Educate Your Contacts About Referrals: Don’t assume people are actively thinking of who they can refer to you. Let them know your practice relies on referrals and how much you appreciate them passing your name along. Educate them on what makes a good referral; what does your perfect client look like? The more information you can give them the better chances they will remember you when that person calls them on the phone. 2. Immediate Appreciation: When a contact does refer you, call or send a thank-you note to both parties the very same day. 3. Reward: Within the next two days, send your referral source a small gift of appreciation like a handwritten thank you card or perhaps even a gift card to Starbucks or Amazon.com. 4. Recognition: Once you’ve successfully scheduled a meeting with the potential client, email your referral source to let them know you have scheduled that meeting and that you will update them again if the referral signs up. 5. Reward and Recognition 2: When the referral becomes a new client, send a “level 2 gift” to your referral source. A level 2 gift should be something your referral source will value and appreciate. However, be aware of dollar-amount gift limits your referrals are able to accept and be sure not to run afoul of the fee splitting prohibitions with non-attorneys in your ethics rules. Also, be sure to include a personal note that tells your referral source the positive outcome of their recommendation. 6. Stay Top of Mind: Even when your referral sources haven’t recently referred, stay top of mind. Send them a monthly newsletters or periodically a note thanking them for past and future referrals. The holidays provide you with the perfect opportunity to get back in touch, but too many attorneys focus all their keep-in-touch efforts around this busy season. To make sure you stay top of mind, you need to stay in touch regularly throughout the year. 7. Rank Your Referral Sources. Here is the criteria I recommend so you know who you should spend more time with: A. Referral sources who have the exact same target market as you and have already sent you at least 1 great referral. Spend most of your time cultivating these relationships. B. Referral sources who have a very similar target market and have great potential to send you great referrals. Consider holding a joint marketing event or seminar to assist them in making the referral to you. C. Referral sources have some potential, but may serve a different market and have not referred anyone to you yet. If you’re ready to take your firm to the next level in 2014 and would like some assistance in achieving your financial goals and building a lifestyle law firm, I invite you to sign up for a complimentary strategy session with one of our trained Rainmaker Law Marketing Consultants. Two-time international best-selling author, Stephen Fairley is CEO of The Rainmaker Institute, LLC, the nation’s largest law firm marketing company specializing in marketing and lead conversion for small to medium law firms. Over 10,000 attorneys nationwide have benefited from learning and implementing the proven Rainmaker Marketing System. Over the last 12 years, he has become a nationally recognized legal marketing expert and been named, America’s Top Marketing Coach. He has spoken numerous times for over 35 of the nation’s largest state and local bar associations and has a large virtual footprint with his highly successful Rainmaker legal marketing blog and has over 150,000 followers on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. For more information, please visit www.TheRainmakerInstitute.com or call (888)588-5891.
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